How to Measure a Cord of Wood

In order to get a good accurate measurement of firewood, it will help if it is stacked with square corners and even straight sides. An uneven pile will require some estimating and the measurement will not be as accurate.

With a well stacked pile you simple measure the height length and width in feet and multiply them together. This gives you the cubic feet volume. Since a cord is 128 cubic feet you divide your figure by 128 and to find out how many cords of wood you have.

Example: The standard dimensions of  a cord is 4x4x8 feet. Multiply those numbers together and you get 128 cubic feet which is one cord. 4x4x4 is 64 cubic feet divided by 128 is .5 or 1/2 cord. You can also use this simple cord of wood calculator.

If your stacks are not square and even you will have to do some averaging and estimating. For example, if the height varies along the stack take several height measurements in different places along the length of the stack and take the average to use that for your calculation. If the ends of the stack are sloped instead of vertical you will have to estimate where to start measuring the length of the stack.

If the pieces of firewood vary in length, this can make getting an accurate measurement more difficult. Since the length of the pieces determine the with of a row or multiple rows stacked side by side then the with of a row will be uneven. In this case take several measurements to come up with the average length of your pieces to get the width of the stack.

A heaping pile of firewood is really not practical to measure since heaping piles tend to have random dimensions. This can take more serious geometry to figure out the volume. If I try to explain how to do that here I will probably only confuse us both. If you really want an accurate measurement it might be easier to stack it than figure it out. That is if it isn’t a huge pile.

Firewood that is loosely thrown into a square sided container like a pickup bed or a shed can be measured the same as wood that is stacked. Just measure the length with and height and multiply them. If the top of the pile is uneven make an estimate of what the height would be if it was even.

Firewood that is loosely thrown into a pile has more air space between the pieces so a loose cord will take up more volume than a stacked cord. For a loose cord, instead of dividing your cubic foot volume by 128, divide it by 180 cubic feet.

This 180 cubic feet figure is a rough estimate and can vary by how loosely it is thrown together so only consider the measurement of a loose cord to be an estimate and not an accurate way to measure a legal cord.

If you have a question or need something clarified feel free to ask in the public comment section below.

13 thoughts on “How to Measure a Cord of Wood”

  1. The dimensions 4x4x8 are the most common dimensions referred to when describing a cord. That is what 128 cubic feet is based on. But you are correct Mitch, any of those dimensions add up to a full cord. Any dimension that equals 128 cubic feet is a cord.

  2. Hey Admin.What I don’t understand is why if a wood stack is 3’x8’x5′,and thats a cord,how can we lose 8cf ? If the pile is 2’x8’x6′ we lose 32cf. Thanks,Mitch

  3. Ok you got me on that one. I misunderstood your question thinking you were asking if 4x4x8 is the only measurement that is a cord. I didn’t do the math and posted in a hurry just assuming you were giving me figures that were 128 cubic feet. A little lesson in assuming there for me. But After doing the math, I see you are right. Those dimensions, which look like they would add up to a cord, really don’t. You definitely brought a little mind teaser here.

    If you take the dimensions of 4×4 3×5 and 2×6, you will see they don’t have the same surface area.


    So since the plane of those dimensions have different surface areas, naturally when you multiply the 8′ length, you will get different volume. It might be easier to visualise if you stack some cube blocks 4×4, 3×5 and 2×6 and notice the differences. Or to draw the squares on paper in those configurations.

    At first I assumed they would be a cord too, but after looking into it, they are short of a cord. It always pays to do the math. Kind of a fun brain teaser there.

  4. IM new at this can you tell me if i have a shed 8ft long 3ft wide and 6ft high how close is it to a cord?

  5. Judy,

    To calculate cubic feet, just use a calculator and start multiplying. That Wii be the easiest way in the future.

    You need 128 cu feet for a cord.

    You have 8x3x6

    8×3 is 24

    24×6 is 144

    You have 16 cu ft more wood than a regular cord.
    Or a little more than 10% over a cord . Actually,
    Whoever built the box, built it for a cord, depending
    on how tight you stack it, the 10% can disappear.

    Good Luck.

  6. “Firewood that is loosely thrown into a square sided container like a pickup bed or a shed can be measured the same as wood that is stacked.”

    That statement is incorrect. There’s a lot less air space in a neatly stacked volume than in a pile of sticks thrown together haphazardly. The term “cord” refers to a neatly stacked volume, not a sloppy one.

  7. Apparently you didn’t keep reading. The next paragraph says just what you said and explains that you will have to use a different figure than 128 when it comes time to divide.

  8. If the Length = 12 feet, Width =2 feet and height = 9 inches then how can we calculate?

    And dear Sir/Madam,
    I need measurement/dimension formula of Pommel (Circle) Wood and Square (Pilaster) Wood.

    Example: Length (inches) x Wedth (inches) x ????? / 144 x Market Price = answer

    I forgot the formula, Please help me in this regard.

    I know that there is two type of woods, Pommel is like as under:
    this the the tree.

    And Square wood is as under:
    this is also tree but after cutting the tree will be shown like this.

    There are two different formulas for measure the tree (wood)

    Hope you will help me in this regard.

    Syed Fahad Tirmazi

  9. Seldom can a rack of wood be easily measured in feet. A rack might be 10 ft 6 in long by 5 1/2 foot high and be 16 inches long logs.

    A cord is defined as 128 cubic feet of tightly packed logs. It does not matter how it is stacked, if it’s 128 cubic feet and tightly packed it’s a cord.

    I measure the rack in inches. Multiply the length by the height by the width and you get cubic inches. There are 1728 (12 x 12 x 12) cubic inches in a cubic foot, so, using a calculator (everyone has one in their cell phone) multiply in inches the height times length times width, then divide by 221184.

    If you can’t remember this magic number, multiply 12 x 12 x 12 x 128. The 12 x 12 x 12 is the number of cubic inches in a cubic foot, and 128 is the number of cubic feet in a cord.

    You should then look at the rack and if not TIGHTLY PACKED, reduce it by some guess depending on how tight it looks.

  10. Hello I just started selling wood this fall. been pretty basic, selling cut and split, 21″long pieces in a 4x4x8 cord, and 8′ logs 4x4x8.. pretty simple till this guy called and wanted 4 cord cut and split 8″ pieces! now my question to you is is the measurement the same? you know a cord is a cord! or is it different because of the length of wood? cause it seemed like I went through a lot of wood to get the 4 cord..

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